10 essential OS X apps for pro web developers

The best tools for coding, testing, uploading and tracking costs


The Mac's always been a strong platform for design applications, but it's now also the obvious choice for web developers.

A built-in Apache server and the ability to run Mac OS X and Windows browsers simultaneously (the latter via virtual machines) takes you part of the way, but high-quality software products for development really make the Mac stand out in this space.

If you're new to the platform or fancy some shiny new tools for working on websites, our list below details the best you can buy. Note that if you're more of a beginner, you're also covered on the Mac.

1. Coda, $99 (£63) $85 (£54) upgrade from Transmit

Panic's answer to anyone sick of cluttered workflow, Coda is a single-window web development environment, bundling a text editor, file-transfer client, SVN, CSS editing, Terminal and reference material. Plug-ins fill gaps and extend functionality, and the environment is flexible and smart, sure to suit most hand-coders.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

2. BBEdit, $125 (£79)

This long-time hardcore text editor has an interface that's decidedly long in the tooth, but it nonetheless remains a handy tool to have around. BBEdit's find-and-replace is second-to-none, and its code-folding and flexible keyboard shortcut assignment make it a faster environment for marking up documents than Coda. If you can afford it, buy both.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

3. CSSEdit, €30 (£28)

You might wonder why you should grab a standalone CSS editor, but CSSEdit's live-preview function pays for itself quickly. Use the app to download a site's CSS and edit locally; a live preview then shows how changes affect the live website. First-rate editing, styles management and a site x-ray inspector add further value.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

4. Enkoder (Free)

Spam's a major problem for anyone who lists an email address online. Hivelogic's Enkoder script is one of the most powerful of its kind, encrypting your address in near bullet-proof fashion. This standalone app for the Mac runs locally and saves previously encoded addresses.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

5. xScope, $27 (£17)

Iconfactory's xScope bridges design and development, providing a set of on-screen tools for measuring, aligning and inspecting layouts, such as rulers and a loupe. The Dimensions tool is the star, though, intelligently measuring distances between on-screen objects, such as boxes within a design.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

6. Transmit, $30 (£19)

Although plenty of free FTP clients exist for the Mac, this Apple Design Award winner has a great UI and is robust enough to justify the shareware fee. Transmit also supports S3, WebDAV and SFTP.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

7. VirtualHostX, $19 (£12)

Rather than fiddling around with config files, use VirtualHostX to configure your Mac's web server settings and host multiple sites using easy to remember custom domains. Virtual hosts can be shared with other local network users, and VirtualHostX also plays nice with MAMP.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

8. MAMP, Free and £39 for Pro version

MAMP packs Apache, MySQL and PHP into a self-contained directory that you can bung anywhere on your Mac and use as a testing environment without touching existing Apache installations. The Pro version adds further features for advanced users.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

9. VMware Fusion, $80 (£51)

There's a scrap going on for virtual machine supremacy on the Mac, and Fusion currently betters Parallels Desktop and VirtualBox. Robustness, usability and strong performance ensure Fusion's an ideal choice for running Windows in a window on your Mac.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

10. On The Job, $40, (£25)

If you're a pro, you need to keep an eye on development costs and invoicing, and so this final choice is the Mac's best time-tracker. On The Job makes it painless to define clients and jobs, keep track of tasks, and, finally, to invoice. Timers can be triggered from the menu bar as well as the app itself.

10 essential mac os x pro web design apps

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